Author Topic: Finances @ 30  (Read 3148 times)

bike2dawn

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Finances @ 30
« on: January 31, 2018, 11:27:35 PM »
Hey Everyone!

I am looking for advice on making a career shift. I am 30 years old, debt free, I don't own a house or car, and I have a small savings of about 30k (which I hope to invest).

My dilemma consists of two scenarios:

1. Go back to school for Masters in environmental science/PA/PT and spend anywhere from 30-120k for a professional degree that would take away 2-4 years earning and put me back in debt

2. Complete a shorter program, for teaching, that costs less and takes about 1 year, and jump into earning quicker, but at the cost of possibly not making as much as the 1st option.

My current idea is to jump into teaching because its the lowest cost, and take GIS courses or something else on the side, but part of me is torn because I am not sure which career path I would like to do better.

Financially, which path would everyone suggest lead to a quicker financial freedom given I live modestly?
And, if I were to make >45k a year, what percentage of income would you try to save?
« Last Edit: February 01, 2018, 04:32:52 AM by bike2dawn »

westtoeast

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2018, 04:58:03 AM »
Have you spent time in a school yet? I recommend looking for a volunteer position so you can make sure you are game for the realities of the job before you start a program!

I love being a teacher-- I'm fulfilled and challenged every day at work. However, in your first couple years teaching you will likely be getting to school early, staying later and bringing work home. I think it could be difficult to balance this with night courses. You could, however, take a summer course or two each year.

Jon Bon

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2018, 06:48:43 AM »
Hey Everyone!

I am looking for advice on making a career shift. I am 30 years old, debt free, I don't own a house or car, and I have a small savings of about 30k (which I hope to invest).

My dilemma consists of two scenarios:

1. Go back to school for Masters in environmental science/PA/PT and spend anywhere from 30-120k for a professional degree that would take away 2-4 years earning and put me back in debt

2. Complete a shorter program, for teaching, that costs less and takes about 1 year, and jump into earning quicker, but at the cost of possibly not making as much as the 1st option.

My current idea is to jump into teaching because its the lowest cost, and take GIS courses or something else on the side, but part of me is torn because I am not sure which career path I would like to do better.

Financially, which path would everyone suggest lead to a quicker financial freedom given I live modestly?
And, if I were to make >45k a year, what percentage of income would you try to save?

Give us a little more info.

1. Tell us about your current job. Where are you know salary wise? Do you like this job, does it pay well, chances for advancement? etc etc.
2. Tell us about your future job. How much will it pay, what type of work, how do you know you will like it etc?

Grad school almost always has a MASSIVE opportunity cost, so that is something to be aware of that most folks don't think about.  As far as secondary degrees go, I always advocate to A. Keep your current job while in school, and B. Have a job that picks up part of the tab. Yes its not the easiest thing in the worst to do, but it would be a hell of a lot easier then paying off 120k in loans because you stopped working for 2 years to pay for school 100% on your own.

YMMV of course but give us some more info and we can probably help you. I can speak specifically to your field but I but there are those on here who could.




deek

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2018, 08:55:14 AM »
Following this thread.
I'm 26, but contemplating my future and possible career routes as well.

BigHaus89

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2018, 10:28:26 AM »
I'm assuming you currently have a bachelors degree?

I recommend taking GIS courses and trying to get a job with a utility. You can make $50-100k depending on the company and expertise. There is high demand for this (I work in this industry).

beattie228

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2018, 10:34:15 AM »
If you have the pre-requisites and have a strong interest in medicine, PA is a damn good deal in terms of bang for your buck. I'm a PA who finished my training in my early 30s and really enjoy what I do. It's two years away from income, but you can hustle with side jobs afterward and make up the difference in no time.

nurseart

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2018, 12:34:23 PM »
Consider doing some subbing or volunteering at a school before going to school to be a teacher. My husband taught for a year and it was a pretty negative and then eventually physically unsafe environment (kids getting in fights teachers couldn't break up and teachers ended up getting hurt, inadequate resources etc etc). Depending on your area, it can be pretty rough and not what you might expect.

FatFI2025

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2018, 10:29:39 AM »
Definitely go back to school ASAP since you will deeply regret not doing it -- 30s are important earning years. If you're agnostic about the choice, go with 1 since your lifetime earnings will be way higher as a PA vs. a teacher. Just be strategic in how you approach the whole thing to keep your costs down. Pursue the 30k option, not the 120k option.

I went back to grad school from 26-28 part-time and would not recommend the part-time route since it doesn't allow you to enjoy the educational experience. At 32 I'm so glad it's behind me, but I could have done a program at 1/2 the cost with the same career benefit. I'm still paying for the pricey choice.

bike2dawn

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2018, 05:45:13 AM »
Thanks for all the input!

As requested, here is a little more info on my background. I currently hold a BS in Biochemistry, my jobs since college have been in the medical supply industry, land management, and corporate retail environments... I've done some sport coaching on the side but mostly I haven't had a focus. Hence why anything is possible at this moment!

Currently, I am unemployed by choice, I wanted to travel before I had any commitments and it was a good time to get out of my last job I grew to dislike. So this could be why I am feeling a little pressure to choose a direction to commit to when I get back to the states.

I haven't had any experience with kids besides coaching sports, so I will definitely try to shadow or arrange something with kids in a teaching environment when I return...

PA's/PT's I am worried about having a life/work balance in these careers, do you feel you get time off?

And GIS professions, how would I get experience with GIS to see if I even like it?

And if there are any environmental professionals, was it hard to find work after a masters in a non-government position?


thanks everyone!


brokescientist

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2018, 12:20:00 PM »
You could become a process development scientist and make about 65-75k a year in Maryland.

Off the Wheel

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2018, 01:07:00 PM »
I went through a similar quandry when I was in my late 20s. At the time, I was working in marketing and wanted 'meaning' so applied for (and got into) an Environmental Policy & Regulation MSc at a top international school.

Being pragmatic even before I was mustachian, I talked to a lot of people and did a lot of analysis. Unfortunately, what I discovered is that the environmental science space is filled with people with big dreams and big debts. Most jobs (depending on experience) pay $40K at entry level, and level out around $60K. The only companies that pay well are big oil and gas companies that are looking for environmental scientists on staff in order to get AROUND policy and regulation. Since I wanted to make the shift to a more ethical industry, it wasn't for me.

I also did some financial calculators: https://www.moneyunder30.com/is-graduate-school-worth-the-cost and since I was making $100K at the time, the result was bleak - I'd make about $3M LESS going back to grad school.

So, the choice was clear, for me. I decided to keep in my current field, but find a job that aligned more with my values. It meant a $10K paycut for a couple of years before getting back to where it was, but that was still easier to swallow than the grad school price.

Megs193

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2018, 01:53:25 PM »
I highly recommend going to PA school if it is something you would be interested in.  I have been a PA for 12 years now and itís a great career.  The flexibility of your job depends on what field you go into.  I started in Pediatrics.  It was all daytime shifts. I did 16 hours 2 days a week and one 8 hour shift on the weekend. I switched to the NICU because I wanted a bigger challenge and I worked 3 thirteen hour shifts.  Once I had kids I switched to an office setting where I work 2 days a week to keep my foot in the door.  The salaries can also range.  I live in New York and the PAís I know make anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000.  Plus there is an opportunity for overtime or to moonlight if you want to increase your income. 

CalBal

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2018, 04:44:13 PM »
GIS Analyst here - to be perfectly honest, most GIS jobs these days are "something else" + GIS. So, an employer might advertise a position for a geophysicist and also want GIS experience. In fact, that's how I got into GIS in the first place (I was an environmental scientist (ecologist/biological technician) who started using GIS (ages ago) and it eventually transitioned into full-time GIS). That's not to say that there aren't pure GIS jobs - I work full time GIS and mainly do spatial analysis (which is varied and interesting) - but pure GIS jobs are often are very boring rote work (think working for the planning department at a city, for example). GIS programs want you to believe there are tons of high-paying jobs out there, but I would say that's largely not true, except for entry level jobs (that are not that high paying).

I personally would find an area you might really enjoy and add GIS on top of it. Employers really like that added value (because they don't really want to hire us dedicated GIS analysts anymore because we cost more). In addition, GIS certificates aren't that valuable (IMO) because you can get them with no real-world experience. We have hired people who supposedly had experience (from going through a certificate program) and they had to have a LOT of hand-holding. Just my opinion though. If you could get one cheaply, it might be worth doing just to get the software experience. A GISP is more valuable, but if you have no experience, you'd have to work up to that (it takes a lot of "experience" points).

If you think you would enjoy GIS you could get the personal edition of esri's ArcGIS Desktop - I think it is $100. (There are other software vendors, but esri is the biggest, and it is the one I am most familiar with. There are open source packages as well, though they have a steeper learning curve for a beginner.) Then do the free tutorials esri offers as well as any other tutorial you can find online. Use esri's forums (less helpful) or gisstackexchange (super helpful) for answering questions and figuring things out. Then just start using it in conjunction with whatever you are doing for your day job (or even just for fun!). It may not seem like there are many opportunities to use GIS in a non-GIS environment, but I think you'd be surprised. Almost everything has a geographic component, either inherently (ie environmental geography), or when viewed through, say, a sociatal or cultural geography lens. You could even make up data just to get used to working with the software. There's also a lot of free data out there that you could use. You won't be able to use it for your current job (probably), but it's the *doing* that's most important. Most GIS softwares are very complex and it takes a while to find your way around easily.

Other related industries you might explore: photogrammetric mapping (although this is dying out somewhat), image analysis (satellite, aerial, hyperspectral), LiDAR collection/processing/analysis (LiDAR has been and is still becoming more popular), drone (piloting, imagery/LiDAR/thermal/other data collection), mobile mapping (those big units you see on trucks that collect 3D data). Even getting a little experience in some of these gives you an advantage if you want to apply to a job that is "something else" + GIS.

Also, it is becoming increasingly important to have programming/scripting skills (Python in the case of esri) so that's worth investigating if you like coding. Web development is also becoming increasingly popular (web map and app development, for example). Server administration experience can be valuable. So can enterprise database (eg. Oracle and SQL Server) experience.

Once you get some experience you could volunteer through GIS Corps: https://www.giscorps.org/

A final word to the wise though - environmental engineering (what I do) with a big consulting firm can be... challenging. I have been in the industry for over 15 years, the last 10 with the same company, and though I make pretty good money, I've been doing it for a long time (or so it seems), and a lot of people don't make nearly as much. It can also be really stressful being in a seller-doer model environment, and the longer you are in the industry the more they want you to move into project management (something I am 100% not interested in). (I'm currently looking for an exit strategy.) This is not to discourage you from exploring these options, just a little heads-up. I'm sure there are people who are in the same position as I am that love it. YMMV!

bike2dawn

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2018, 10:38:12 PM »
I highly recommend going to PA school if it is something you would be interested in.  I have been a PA for 12 years now and itís a great career.  The flexibility of your job depends on what field you go into.  I started in Pediatrics.  It was all daytime shifts. I did 16 hours 2 days a week and one 8 hour shift on the weekend. I switched to the NICU because I wanted a bigger challenge and I worked 3 thirteen hour shifts.  Once I had kids I switched to an office setting where I work 2 days a week to keep my foot in the door.  The salaries can also range.  I live in New York and the PAís I know make anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000.  Plus there is an opportunity for overtime or to moonlight if you want to increase your income.

First, thanks for your input, I really appreciate it!

With regards to types of PA's, is it hard to get into a specialty right out of school?

I've also been looking into other health specialties like genetic counseling and sonographer specialist, I like the idea of genetic counseling because it has a lot of science and some interaction with the public, are there other specialities like it?


draco44

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2018, 08:50:41 PM »
I went through a similar quandry when I was in my late 20s. At the time, I was working in marketing and wanted 'meaning' so applied for (and got into) an Environmental Policy & Regulation MSc at a top international school.

Being pragmatic even before I was mustachian, I talked to a lot of people and did a lot of analysis. Unfortunately, what I discovered is that the environmental science space is filled with people with big dreams and big debts. Most jobs (depending on experience) pay $40K at entry level, and level out around $60K. The only companies that pay well are big oil and gas companies that are looking for environmental scientists on staff in order to get AROUND policy and regulation. Since I wanted to make the shift to a more ethical industry, it wasn't for me.

I also did some financial calculators: https://www.moneyunder30.com/is-graduate-school-worth-the-cost and since I was making $100K at the time, the result was bleak - I'd make about $3M LESS going back to grad school.

So, the choice was clear, for me. I decided to keep in my current field, but find a job that aligned more with my values. It meant a $10K paycut for a couple of years before getting back to where it was, but that was still easier to swallow than the grad school price.

Off the Wheel has some good points here re. the environmental sector.  If you get a position that is a good match for you in terms of skills and mission, it can be a blast, but many idealistic types, especially if they don't have hard skills, may be left jobless after taking the time and money to get and environmental science graduate degree.  If you go down this path, your hard science undergrad program may be a selling point.

I also noticed that you specifically mention interest in non-government positions in the environmental sector.  I'm not sure what your reason might be for this restriction, or what your ideal environmental job may look like, but keep in mind that a lot of environmental jobs ARE government jobs.  First you've got your straight-up regulatory positions, be it at the municipal, county, state, regional, or federal level.  Then you have the public sector jobs in education and direct resource management (park rangers, public utilities, mosquito abatement districts, etc).  This may all be obvious to you already, but since it sounds like you are still in an exploratory phase, I thought it would be worth giving the public sector a shout-out.  There's a lot of cool gov. jobs to be had in the environmental field (though of course you have to get hired first).  Want to oversee all the forests in your corner of the world, plan how your town is going to manage its stormwater, decide what to do about an overpopulation of white-tailed deer, or rewrite some environmental laws themselves?  All government jobs, many of which pay better than the non-profit sector (but not necessarily the private sector).

Also, while there are of course many environmental jobs that aren't in gov. (industry, non-profit advocacy groups, academic research, private environmental consulting, certain trade organizations, etc), if you are in the environmental field, it's extremely likely that if you aren't in government yourself, you are interacting closely with the government and its rules.  If gov. isn't for you (which is totally fine), you might still consider trying to get a gov. internship while in grad school if you go into environmental science.  Private industry likes to hire people with knowledge of the environmental regulations they have to follow, and working in the public sector, however briefly, is a great way to learn that.

Best of luck whichever path you take!

Megs193

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Re: Finances @ 30
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2018, 06:57:26 AM »
I highly recommend going to PA school if it is something you would be interested in.  I have been a PA for 12 years now and itís a great career.  The flexibility of your job depends on what field you go into.  I started in Pediatrics.  It was all daytime shifts. I did 16 hours 2 days a week and one 8 hour shift on the weekend. I switched to the NICU because I wanted a bigger challenge and I worked 3 thirteen hour shifts.  Once I had kids I switched to an office setting where I work 2 days a week to keep my foot in the door.  The salaries can also range.  I live in New York and the PAís I know make anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000.  Plus there is an opportunity for overtime or to moonlight if you want to increase your income.

First, thanks for your input, I really appreciate it!

With regards to types of PA's, is it hard to get into a specialty right out of school?

I've also been looking into other health specialties like genetic counseling and sonographer specialist, I like the idea of genetic counseling because it has a lot of science and some interaction with the public, are there other specialities like it?

There are a lot of specialist willing to hire PA's and train them.  My 3 closest friends in school all went into specialities right after school (endocrinology, urology and hematology).  I worked in general medicine for a year (pediatrics) before moving onto the neonatal intensive care unit.  Genetic counseling requires the same masters level education as a PA but I don't believe the compensation is as good.